History in Haywood County, NC

Great-Uncle William Harrison (Bill) Leatherwood
-brother of Martha Ann (Matt)Leatherwood Allison
-son of John & Margaret McNabb Leatherwood
-photo taken about 1895

written by Rev. Frank Siler
published in the Waynesville, NC newspaper in April 1926
after the funeral of W. H. Leatherwood.

During my brief pastorate here I have conducted or assisted in conducting the funeral services of eight of Haywood county’s oldest citizens.

In coming to this ninth one, none I think has attained to the age, or had a wider acquaintance, or county connection.
William Harrison Leatherwood was born on Jonathan’s Creek May 4, 1840, and died at his son’s home, Grover Leatherwood, at six o’clock Tuesday morning, April 20, 1926; aged 85 years, 11 months and 16 days. He was one of ten children of John and Maragret Leatherwood, eight sons and two daughters.

Two sisters, Mrs. Laura Owen and Mrs. Matt Allison, both of Jonathan’s Creek, survive him. His mother’s maiden name was McNabb, a Tennesseean. His father, John Leatherwood and brother Jack, went from Haywood County to East Tennessee and married sisters. John Leatherwood came back to this county where he reared his family and lived until during the Civil War, on a visit to three of his sons in prison he contracted a disease which had smitten many of the men in camp, including his three sons, two of whom died, the father also lost his life.

The long journey of his father, difficult and perilous, to be with his distressed soldier boys may be taken as a reminder of a family loyalty which has characterized the family for a century.

The other brother Jack with his wife passed on to Cherokee County in the extreme western part of the state where they reared a family. It was from this western branch that were descended those members of the Leatherwood family whose names are familiar to residents of Macon and Jackson Counties in former years. Some of them have migrated to Haywood, as for example, Mrs. Felix B. Alley, who is a granddaughter of Jack and Elvira Leatherwood.

The subject of this sketch was first married to Miss Clara Welch Hayes of Waynesville at the then well known Welch House on Sunday morning, July, 2nd, 1860 by the Rev. W. H. Howell in the presence as attendants of Dr. H. M. Rogers, Miss Matt E. Howell, R. H. Howell, Miss Matt Freeman, W. P. Welch and Miss Mollie B. Francis. Miss Hayes attended school in the old Baptist church taught by the Rev. John Ammons. It was during her school days that Mr. Leatherwóod formed her acquaintance, wooed and won her who proved to him a great blessing.

Among those who were her school mates and close friends I mention such familiar names as Sallie Herren Miller, Sadie Norwood Ferguson, Rixie Battle Felmet, Matilda Howell Rogers.

To them were born the following children: Mrs. Mary Bradley, Kingsport, Tenn.; Mrs. Annie Francis, Waynesville; W. P. Leatherwood, Lake Junaluska; Eustice E. Leatherwood, deceased; John M. Leatherwood, Dillsboro; Joseph B. and Robert V. Leatherwood, East Waynesville; Jerry R. Leatherwood, deceased; Walter W. Leatherwood, Roseburg, Oregon; James Thomas Leatherwood, deceased; Grover, G. Leatherwood, Lake Junaluska; Frank W. Leatherwood, Lake Junaluska and, Rufus and Nora, twins, who died in infancy and another, the last born, dying in infancy.

Thirty-one years ago he was again married to Miss Mary Palmer of Cataloochee whom were born three children, Mrs. E. D. Barnhill of Enfield, N. C. and Mrs. R. B. Howell of Jonathan’s Creek and Maggie who died in infancy.

January third, 1900, by Rev. Mr. Williams, Brother Leatherwood was again united in marriage to Miss Belle Carver of Leceister, Buncombe County. To them were born five children, three of these with the mother survive him, viz, Miss Mary Louise and Miss Winnie of Asheville and William Benjamin Leatherwood of Hazelwood.

From the above it will be seen that many of the names of those who will preserve the family name besides the wide defusion of blood in a wide circle of relatives.

Besides the numerous children given our brother as his heritage sixty six out of eighty grandchildren born survive him and thirty-five great grandchildren.

Mr. Leatherwood in early manhood was considered a weakly young man and an out of door occupation was sought for him. It was during this period that he rode the mail, which in those days had to be borne on horseback, from Asheville to Murphy. His stopping place in Asheville was at the old Hilliard home, a well known place of hospitality.

It was perhaps as a school teacher that our brother formed that habit for exactness and system that made him in later life an invaluable asset in the public service of his native county as an accountant and in the holding of public office. He was proficient in figures, having his services often sought, by his comrades in office while a habit at the court house on commissoners’ days. All who have had business there will recall his familiar face during later years in the clerk’s office.

Besides the public schools of Jonathan’s Creek, Brother Leatherwood found good and far reaching training in early life in the Moody School near the old Methodist church which stood in what is now the Waynesville cemetery under Prof. Dabney. Among his loved and trusted friends in this old school was David Boyd. He boarded with Dr. Rogers. Here he learned the art of mathematical accuracy and attained great proficiency in figures and a great pensmanship. I have had access to some of his war reminiscencies written in a smooth and most legible style. He was in consequence in great demand for public office by his fellow citizens of Haywood County who was three time elected to the office of sheriff, serving in this capacity for six consecutive years. He was for two terms Register of Deeds, was appointed to fill out one unexpired term as Clerk of the Court and for a number of years deputy clerk.

For a great many years he was Justice of the Peace which office he held to the time of his late removal of his residence to Asheville. He served repeatedly as county commissioner and held the trusted and important office of County Treasurer for six years.

His hand is said to have been affixed to more court records, his offices sought in more county settlements, and his services obtained for more marriages than any man who has lived in the county. He was a man of painstaking precision. One familiar with his rule of action which compelled him to do well whatever he set his hend to told me that he had known him to sit up with public business all night.
Touching Mr. Leatherwood’s war record, I take the liberty of quoting the following written in his own hand while a prisoner: “U. S. Prison. Johnson Island, Ohio, May 4, 1865. William Harrison Leatherwood was born on Jonathan’s Creek in the county of Haywood, State of North Carolina, May 4, 1840, where he lived until July 12, 1862, when he entered the service of the Confederate States as 1st Lieutenant, Company A., 2nd N. C. Regiment and went on duty in East Tennessee in May, 1863. His regiment was ordered to Cumberland Gap where he remained until the 9th of September, when he was surrendered by Gen. Fraser to Gen. Burnside. On the 11th he left the place under guard for some prison and arrived at this place.on the 12th of September.

"During his imprisonment at this had many hardships to undergo, such as to render his prison life very disagreeable, many times suffering ‘with cold and hunger, but he held out until the last when he was compelled to submit and take the oath of allegiance to the U. S. before he could be released from prison. The first of January, 1864 is noted for being so very cold many of the prisoners at this place were very near frozen to death. The 23rd of September 1864 for the tornado, which left the house which I was in without a top and some others in the prison. Some few men were injured by the flying timber, but none killed.

The lake was frozen over nearly all the winter of 1864-65. Nothing but ice could be seen.
On the 11th of March, ‘65, I signed the parole for exchange, but the many misfortunes which our armies met, exchange stopped and left me a prisoner. The 17th of March was a very blustry night which kept many weary prisoners from lying down to repose for fear the house would blow from over their heads, and perhaps mash many of them to pieces.

On the 9th of April, Gen. Lee surrendered his army to General Grant. On receiving this many prisoners became very much discouraged, believing the Confederacy would soon fal1 to pieces.

Gen. Joe E. Johnson surrendered his army to Gen. Sherman on the 26th day of April when our last hope was gone. On April 14th President Lincoln was assasinated in the Washington Theatre and died twenty-two minutes after seven on the following morning.
The 25th, a general amnesty was offered to the prisoners at this place and nearly all of the three thousand applied for the same.
The name of the assasin John Wilkes Boothe who was afterwards killed. May God grant that all such assassins as the above may meet with the same fate.”

Then follows in the same hand a foot note written after his return home, which is as follows:
“May 19th- I left Johnson Island and arrived at Covington the 20th. Started from Covington the 23rd, arrived Wed. at Louisville the 24th. arrived at Nashville the 25th, arrived at Knoxville the 28th, and Greenville the 29th and Jonathan’s Creek the 1st of June.”

Among the many lessons from the above to us all today, I merely pause to call to your special attention that which I have always heard to be true, but here it stands out in bold outline, vis: that the name of President Lincoln was then, as now, dear to the soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

Mr. Leatherwood took great delight in keeping up his connection with the veterans of the Lost Cause. Mrs. Leatherwood is authority for the statement that during their 26 years together he did not fail to attend the county, state and general reunions, being at his death a staunch member of the Zebulon Vance Camp, United Veterans of Asheville.

Ha was one of the founders and promoters of the Pink Welch Camp of this county.
Reference was above made to the visit of his father to the camp, probably Camp Douglas, where three of his sons were imprisoned and where father and two died together from the same pestilence.

Cebron, the third son, brother of the subject of this sketch, was finally discharged from prison and made his way home, afterwards going to Oregon whom our brother visited only a few years ago and has since died.

Of those close to Mr. Leatherwood during his war days are mentioned Jerry Ratcliffe, Washington Corzine, John Turpin, Robert Owen and John Mull. The latter living on Allen’s Creek, alone of the number remain.

Excepting the first seventeen years of his married life spent on Jonathan’s Creek with brief residences in Waynesville and Asheville, Mr. Leatherwood has lived at the old Leatherwood home near the highway between Waynesvllle and Lake Juna1uska.
He is therefore well known, and had very many friends. He was a very warm hearted, ardent tempered man, with a perfectly transparent character. There was nothing concealed about him. Possessing as he did such a temperament it would be too much to say that he was faultless. Doubtless like all of us he made mistakes peculiar to his nature and the circumstances of the eventful years and associations amid which he moved, mistakes he would have us all avoid.

His domestic life was affectionate and tender. He loved his family with an unquenchable devotion.
It seems to us all that knowing this marked trait of his character his last days were so ordered as to have been spent so the culmination of a visit to his children and grandchildren. Relatives and.friends have emphasized to me his optimistic spirit and exurberant cheerfullness.

Of his home life, I quote the words of a well-known colored couple, who have, been right much in the life of his family in recent years. Using their words spoken in my home: “He was kind and good to everybody about his premises.”

None could have had his desires more perfectly met than during his last days when, with his wife and children and grandchildren about him, with a daughter as trained nurse to minister to him in the home perhaps of his most beloved daughter-in-law he made as he styled it- "his last fight."

He talked freely about his end and left with us expressions of the Hope of Hopes that his Captain was with him.

It was a most blesseed coincidence that his last Sabbath day in his adopted home town, Asheville, should have been a bright Easter day which found him in Dr. Chandler’s great Bible class at Central Church which he had accustomed himself to attend after moving there. Then following this came a great and inspiring Easter message from the pastor, Dr. Chappell, which he during his sickness never tired of referring to.

A few days before the end he asked for the singing of some of the old hymns of the church and at its close he seemed to join the group about him in the commitment of his soul to God as a “faithful Creator." For two days hope returned to his loved ones that he might live on among us, but early Tuesday morning as the sun was rising, without a struggle his spirit slipped away peacefully to the Father that gave it.
Near the commencement of his married life on Jonathan's Creek, both he and the mother of his first born children were converted in a Methodist revival meeting and joined the Methodist church from where they were transferred to Long’s Chapel, in which church Mr. Leatherwood served for a number of years as steward.

There was a large concourse of people at the funera1 conducted Wednesday at two P. M., April 21st, at Long’s Chapel by his pastor, Rev. Frank Siler, assisted by Rev. S. R. Crockett, a friend of the deceased and family and pastor of the Presbyterian church of Waynesville.

The burial was in the family lot in the Waynesville Cemetery

Third In A Series of Pioneer Haywood Families
The Waynesville Mountaineer
Monday, April 3, 1961
The Leatherwood Family
By W. Clark Medford
Mrs. Mollie Leatherwood Bradley
-daughter of John & Clara Hayes Leatherwood
-at age 95 (in 1961), the oldest surviving member
of the John Leatherwood family

The Haywood family of Leatherwoods are, in greater part, of English ancestry. John Leatherwood, who married Sallie Hunt in Virginia, came into the present section of Haywood (then Buncombe) around the year 1800, he and his wife locating on Jonathans Creek just below present Dellwood.
Here they reared a family of six boys and four girls. John Leatherwood was a man of influence in his community, his name being often mentioned in our old records in connection with county affairs.
Arthur’s history says of him: “John Leatherwood was well known for his thrift and industry, fine hounds, fine cattle, and good old-time apple brandy - a good citizen who lived to a good old age.”
Of the children of John Leatherwood, John B. seems to have been the eldest. He settled on Jonathans Creek, as did his brother Samuel, who married Tirza Haynes and lived at the home place.
Then there were the three blind boys born to John and Sallie Hunt Leatherwood. Their names were Jason, Edmond and Elias - Jason being the only one who lived to manhood. Another son, Jack, settled in Cherokee County.
An interesting record is to be found in the records of the old county court about the time of the Civil War, as follows: “Jason Leatherwood came into court and, at his own request, made application that a guardian be appointed for himself and his two blind brothers.” The application was approved.
Another son, Jack, settled in Cherokee County.
Two daughters, it seems, lived in Tennessee--Adaline who married Zack Allen, and Betsey, the wife of William McNabb.
Then there were two younger daughters of John Leatherwood who lived in this county--Nancy who married Humphrey P. Haynes, and Polly, the wife of Reuben Moody.

The John B. Leatherwood Line

It is the John B. Leatherwood line of Haywood & Jackson and Cherokee counties with which this sketch is especially concerned.
John B. married Margaret McNabb, and to this union were born a family of ten children, eight boys and two girls.
J. Cass Leatherwood, who married Avaline Haynes, lived the Shady Grove section of Jonathans Creek where he was Justice of the Peace for many years.
Robert M, Leatherwood, one of Cass’s eldest sons, was a J. P. at Waynesville for a while.
Other children were Jacob V. (Bud), Lucius B., Mark, Horace, Charles L., Sallie, Susie, Alice, and Cordelia. Annie died early in life, and two boys died in infancy.
Mack and Verlin Leatherwood, two of the elder sons of John B. Leatherwood, and who were Confederate soldiers, died during the war.

William H. Leatherwood

Bill Leatherwood (as he was usually called), son of John B. Leatherwood, was a remarkable man - the most so, it appears, of the Leatherwood family of this western section of the state.
Besides having rendered distinguished service as a Confederate soldier (with the rank of Lieutenant), after returning home from Camp Morton where he had been a prisoner, he entered upon an interesting civilian career.
Bill Leatherwood was a teacher, tax collector, deputy sheriff, and sheriff of the county for three terms. He was also Register of Deeds two terms, Clerk of Haywood Superior Court for a short while (filling out an unexpired term), and deputy clerk for several years.
Also, during some of this time of public service (covering a period of over 50 years) he was Justice of the Peace. ‘Uncle Bill” was a prodigious worker, even in his o1d age (he lived to be nearly 86). His familiar figure was to be seen over at the old courthouse early and late; and he would get to his work on time, even if he had to walk from his home, which was down on the old highway below the Lush Welch place. He did not always get his official fees; also he made many a calculation and wrote many letters, recommendations, etc., for friends and old comrades, for which he got ‘nary a cent’ - neither did he expect any pay.
And this old veteran could also let out the Rebel yell as loud as any of them - right on up to the last reunions held.
Rev. Frank Siler, who was is pastor at Long’s Chapel in the early 1920’s, along w ith other good things, had this to say of Bill Leatherwood:
“He was in early manhood considered a weakly man, and an outdoor occupation was sought for him. (It was), when the mail had to be bourne on horseback from Asheville to Murphy. This, young Leatherwood did, his stopping place in Asheville being the old Hilllard House.
“It was perhaps as a school teacher that he found . . . habits that in later life (were an asset to him) in the public service he rendered his county. He was proficient in figures; and his services were often sought by his comrades in office (and others),a habit at the courthouse on commissioners’ days.”

Twenty-one Children

William H. Leatherwood was married three times, first to Clara Hayes, and to this union 15 children were born. Next he married Mary Palmer, by which marriage there were three children. The third time he married Belle Carver, they having reared three children. Four of these children (three of the first family and one of the second) died in infancy or early childhood.
The names of those who grew up were: First: Annie, Mollie, John, Eustace, Joseph, Robert, Jerry Pinkney, Thomas, Frank, Grover, Walker. Second: Ethel and Jessie. Third: Winnie, Louise and Ben.
Third of the children of John B. Leatherwood was Cebron, who married Adeline Turner and moved to the state of Oregon.
Jasper N. Leatherwood, son of John B., married Lonesome McGhee. They lived on White Oak, where they reared a family of six boys and one girl, whose names were: Mack, Gudger, Robert, Newton, Charles, Parker and Julia.
The children of J. R. Leatherwood and Flora Davis Leatherwood were: Dare, Annie, Gilmer, Pauline, Dennis and Davis.
Of his second marriage (to Louisa Medford Davis) two children were reared Medford and Troy.
Louis Leatherwood married Lucinda Owens first, and they reared one son. His second marriage was to Mahala McCracken, and to this union seven children were born.
Laura and Mattie Leatherwood were two younger daughters of John B. Leatherwood. Laura married W. H. Owen and Mattie married Joshua Allison.
This accounts for all the children of John B. Leatherwood of Jonathan Creek, son of John Leatherwood and first of the name to come to Haywood County.
As for the younger generation of this family, there are those who have given account of themselves.
Jerry Leatherwood, son of William H. (Bill) Leatherwood, was a public school teacher and later clerk of Haywood Superior Court for two or three terms. There were also other teachers in this family.
Of the children of J.R. Leatherwood’s marriage to Flora Davis, three of them (Gilmer, Dennis and Davis) live in Greenville, S. C. Gilmer and Dennis are practicing attorneys, and Gilmer also served as prosecuting attorney for his judicial district.
Then there are Medford and Troy, of his later marriage to Louisa Medford Davis. Medford is a successful business man and farmer; and Troy, who lives on the old J. R. Leatherwood home place, is a progressive farmer.
Hugh Leatherwood, son of Lucius B. Leatherwood and grandson of Cass, was formerly Superior Court Clerk of this County; he is presently, manager of the State Prison at Hazelwood.
Lawrence B. Leatherwood, son of Charles L. Leatherwood and also grandson of Cass Leatherwood, is superintendent of schools in Haywood County.
Then there is Rev. Frank Leatherwood, former Baptist minister, who is also a grandson of Cass Leatherwood.
Just a few of the older ones are left at this writing, to ‘carry on’. Among them are Mrs. Susie Medford of Iron Duff, Mrs. Mollie Bradley of Tennessee, and Frank and Grover Leatherwood of Tuscola.


(c) 1996 - present, Haywood Co., NC

Articles courtesy of Miss Dorothy J. Hall. ~ gr-gr-grandaughter of John & Sallie Hunt Leatherwood